Over the weekend, a range of farm groups said the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced late Friday was an important first step, but not enough to stabilize their sectors.
According to a detailed description of the program released by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Hoeven, the program will provide $16 billion in direct payments for farmers and ranchers, funded using the $9.5 billion emergency program and $6.5 billion in Credit Commodity Corporation (CCC) funding.
The $16 billion will include $2.1 billion for specialty crops (fruit and vegetable) producers.
The payment limit is $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. Qualified commodities must have experienced a 5% price decrease between January and April. A USDA spokesperson said payments would be limited to persons or entities with adjusted gross income under $900,000 unless at least 75% of their income is derived from agriculture.
USDA is expediting the rule-making process for the direct payment program and expects to begin sign-up for the new program in early May and to get payments out to producers by the end of May or early June.
United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel said, "We appreciate the steps taken today, but also must reinforce to Congress that the funds available to agriculture are simply inadequate to keep our industry strong into the future. The programs announced today will limit our ability to reach those who were most impacted by the tragic events around the COVID-19 pandemic."